There are certain rhythms in my life that I do not budge on because they literally save my life. Simplifying my grocery list and meal planning is one of those rhythms for me.
I used to be really bad at planning out my grocery list and meals for the week. And as a result, I would get stressed out about what to make for dinner. Then run to the grocery store for that one ingredient I was missing, only to get to the checkout line with 8 other things I didn’t need. Which also meant we were spending way too much in groceries every week. Ever been here? Yeah, I’m sure I’m not the only one.
The problem was, all of this craziness felt really stressful and chaotic. And I’m all about eliminating the chaos, so I started to streamline the process and set up some rhythms in this area of my life. I quickly found that taking a couple of minutes to plan ahead, eliminated so much unnecessary stress and mental exhaustion!
I thought it would be helpful to put everything I do, in one post. So here it is.
10 Ways to Simplify Your Grocery List & Meal Planning
1. Take 15 minutes to plan out your meals for the week
Every Sunday, I sit down and take just 15 minute to plan out our meals for the week. The main meal I focus on is dinner. I don’t always plan out every breakfast and lunch for the week, but I do always make sure I plan dinner. This step will save you so much mental energy and extra trips to the grocery store all week long.
2. Plan your meals around your schedule for the week
When you sit down to plan your meals for the week, look at your calendar, and plan your meals around your schedule.
- Will there be days when you need to eat out?
- Will there be days you need to throw dinner in the crockpot so it’s ready right away when you get home?
- Will there be days your spouse is working late, so you need to make a really easy dinner for you and the kids that doesn’t require a lot of your time in the kitchen?
Simplify your meal plan, by adjusting your meals to fit your schedule for the week.
3. Embrace leftovers
I have always been a huge fan of leftovers because it is one less meal I have to think about. I always try to make a little extra for dinner so that we can have the leftovers for lunch the next day, or Joe can pack it in his lunch for the next day. Leftovers are the best thing ever – learn to love them!
4. Don’t overcomplicate your meals
I love getting creative in the kitchen when I have the time for it, but a lot of days, I just need to make what’s easy. Typically 4 days out of the week, Joe isn’t home for dinner, so on these nights, I make easy meals. I use my crockpot and instant pot most often, so I am not having to spend much time in the kitchen. And I don’t ever try out new, adventurous recipes on the nights when he’s gone. Nope! I make meals that I know my kids already like and that I am familiar with making.
5. Plan your meals around what you need to use up in your refrigerator
Throwing out food is like throwing away money. Sometimes it just happens, but if you can avoid it, try to. As you’re making your meal plan for the week, see what you already have in your refrigerator that’s going to go bad soon and and plan your meals to use up those foods.
6. Check your grocery list against your pantry and refrigerator before shopping
You may already have some of the items in your pantry, that are on your grocery list. So, to save yourself a few dollars, check your pantry and refrigerator before heading to the grocery store. How often do you get another can of tomato sauce, when you already have 6 in the pantry. It’s so easy to do this, so take a couple of minutes to cross check, first.
7. Theme out a couple of dinners during the week
A really simple way to keep meal planning easy for yourself is to repeat a couple of dinners each week. For example, implement taco Tuesday or Friday night pizza night. When you have a couple of nights that are themed out, those are 2 less dinners you have to think about for the week.
8. Prep it before placing it
Before you put your produce in the refrigerator, always always wash and cut everything, first. There are 2 reasons why this is so important.
First, when everything is washed, cut, and ready to eat, your family will be more apt to actually eat it! Let’s be honest, when you have to wash and cut strawberries, they don’t sound as appealing to eat. But when they are cleaned, cut, and ready, those strawberries will be gone in no time!
Second, prepping all of your produce will save you so much time all week. When you have all of your fruits and veggies prepped and ready, it makes it really easy to throw a quick salad together, cook up some veggies for dinner, or put some fruit in a bowl for the kids.
Pro Tip! Get your kids involved with food prepping. My kids love to help with this and it’s actually a huge help. I wash everything, and they help cut. (These are the kid friendly knives that we use)
9. Food prep, don’t meal prep
I did an entire blog post on this topic that you can read about here. But I find food prepping to be a lot more sustainable than meal prepping. It’s hard for me to think about prepping meals for an entire week, and I don’t want to spend that much time in the kitchen! So instead, I food prep fruits and veggies, and also pick a couple of staple things to stick in the oven. Here’s what a typical week of food prep looks like over here. On Sunday, I always….
Wash, Cut, and Store:
Cut & Roast:
- Sweet Potatoes
Having all of these foods prepped and ready for the week, makes it easy for you to reheat things and quickly throw meals together quickly.
10. Get your groceries delivered
There are so many great grocery delivery services out there today. I would encourage you to just do a little google search, and see what is available in your area. But seriously. I cannot recommend a grocery delivery service, enough!! It saves you so much time. For most services, there is a voluntary option to tip, and sometimes a small up charge for certain products. But, even with these two things, I still always save so much money with grocery delivery service for 2 reasons.
First, ordering groceries online helps me stick to my list. When I go to the grocery store, I have a wandering eye, and end up buying so many things that I really don’t need, that weren’t on my list. An extra $50 in items you don’t need can happen, quick!
Second, when I order online, I can see what my total is and if I’ve spent too much, I can remove some things before completing my order. It’s so easy to get to the checkout line at the grocery store, and see the final total and cringe. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Ordering online keeps you accountable to stick to your budget and adjust items as you need to.
Okay! That sums up everything I do to simplify my grocery list and meal planning. I hope it inspires and helps you! What do you do to simplify meals and grocery shopping in your house? Let me know in the comments!